The fight against the emerging Islamophobic street movement picked up pace this week, Unite Against Fascism writes.
Activists from across the trade unions and Labour Party have been mobilising for the counter-demonstration to the next Free Tommy Robinson rally in Whitehall this Saturday.
Initiated by Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism, it is hoped the counter-protest will galvanise opposition to the growing racist movement that put 15,000 violent racists on the streets of London last month.
Meanwhile, the racists are building their side. Paul Gosar, an extreme right-wing Congressman, looks set to speak at the rally.
Building a united movement against the fascists
The sight of a huge crowd singing Islamophobic chants and listening to speeches from apologists for Nazi collaboration, such as Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter, sent a shockwave through the antiracist movement.
Unite Against Fascism has been meeting with trade union figures after an important statement three weeks ago saw many General Secretaries, faith leaders and senior Labour MPs come together to call for a show of force against the fascists.
The counter-demonstration will be joined by representatives from the RMT rail union, Unite the Union, the Communications Workers Union, the National Education Union, GMB, the UCU lecturers union, the Muslim Council of Britain, the London Muslim Centre and the Green Party.
Labour MEP and veteran antifascist Claude Moraes will also be speaking, alongside Colette Levy, a hidden child of the Holocaust during the Nazi occupation of France.
But the mobilisation is going beyond statements from the top of the trade union movement.
Activists in the RMT held a special meeting this week to organise for the demonstration, after leafleting stations in London and calling on their members to come out against the fascists.
Tens of thousands of leaflets advertising the counter-demonstration, as well as the huge planned rally on Friday against the visit of Donald Trump to the U.K., have been given out at street stalls across London.
Momentum and nearly a dozen of their London branches have also called for their members to come onto the streets against Robinson’s racist street movement.
And Jeremy Corbyn appeared in an online video that called for Labour supporters to join the demonstration.
Victories for the antifascist movement
Despite the scale of the threat, the antifascist movement has scored some important victories over the past few weeks.
Impressively, a coalition of trade unions, Labour Party organisations, faith communities and others managed to decisively outnumber Robinson’s supporters in Leeds last weekend.
Over 700 antifascists marched against just 100 racists – just weeks after Robinson’s fans went on the rampage in Leeds city centre, shouting ‘Muslims off our streets’.
Meanwhile, in Wakefield, a broad community mobilisation saw a 250-strong Stand Up To Racism demonstration humble just 20 National Front neo-Nazis, who are trying to benefit from the big movement emerging around Robinson.
Both of these mobilisations in Yorkshire show that broad and united demonstrations, with the trade unions, Labour Party and faith communities at their heart, can break the momentum of the fascists.
A crucial weekend
But there is no space for complacency.
Robinson’s last rally in Whitehall was a carnival of racism, supported and bankrolled by the international far-right.
Alt-right strategist Steve Bannon sent a message of report, while Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders joined the platform.
Speakers like UKIP leader Gerrard Batten claimed that Britain is undergoing a process of ‘Islamification’, while thousands chanted hate-filled slogans against Muslims.
UKIP is manoeuvring to become the electoral wing of the Islamophobic street movement, and is pushing conspiracy theories about plans by the Jewish banker George Soros to ‘flood’ the West with Muslims to prove just how extreme it is willing to push its rhetoric.
At the same time, Neo-Nazi groups like Generation Identity are aiming to use this atmosphere of antisemitism and violent racism to recruit to their fascist cadres.
In this context, a big counter-demonstration on Saturday is hugely important.
And an enormous demonstration against Trump in London on Friday can also demoralise the far-right in this country – who look to the World’s Number One Racist as a hero and inspiration.
This emerging global far-right alliance is underscored by Paul Gosar’s plans to speak at the Robinson’s rally on Saturday.
Gosar is a climate denier who has attacked the Pope for acting “like a socialist politician”.
He attacked George Soros over his supposed involvement in protests against a fascist rally in Charlottesville last year – which earned him a sharp rebuke from the family of antifascist Heather Heyer, who was killed during the demonstration.
Both Unite Against Fascism and Stand Up To Racism will be giving out tens of thousands of leaflets on Friday’s demonstration against Trump, calling for people to come out the next day against the fascists.
Trump’s visit is a reminder of the danger of fascism across the world, which is being powered forward by his racism. Fascists have entered the governments in Italy and Austria, while their parties are growing substantially in many other parts of Europe.
British antifascists can help to stem the tide of rising racism across Europe and North America – and inspire antiracists around the world to fight back.
But it means scoring more victories like the ones in Leeds and Wakefield – and moving onto the offensive against the fascists.